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National Security Minister Stuart Young.

Renuka Singh

National Security Minister Stuart Young is denying that some citizens linked to People’s National Movement councillors are being allowed private access to him and the border exemption process.

The question of line-jumping favours came up after a short video clip surfaced on social media yesterday showing Young talking to a woman who asked about an exemption to return home.

The video call was facilitated through a councillor for the party, who was also on the call.

Young yesterday labelled the fallout and reaction to the video clip as “UNC mischief.”

The short video clip circulating on social media purportedly shows him directing a female caller to liaise with a PNM member to obtain an exemption to return to Trinidad and Tobago.

In the short clip, which was widely shared on social media yesterday and garnered some negative commentary, the woman tells Young that she’s been out of the country, in Turks and Caicos, since December 2019 and could not get an exemption to return home due to the closure of the borders because of the COVID-19 virus. She said she had applied as soon as the Government announced exemption protocols but still had not heard anything.

In the clip, Young apologises to the woman for the wait and asked her if she applied under the new system. He then asks her the route she would take to get home.

Young eventually confirms that the woman has the councillor’s information and directs her to send her travel information to the councillor, who in turn would then forward that to Young. The clip ends at that point.

However, Young yesterday dismissed the clip as “mischief” from the United National Congress. He said on March 8 he accepted an invitation to address a virtual meeting with the constituency of Arouca/Maloney and this is where the matter was raised.

“It has been drawn to my attention that the UNC and its supporters are circulating a video clip of a question asked of me during the course of the virtual meeting, where an individual participating in the said meeting used the opportunity to ask me about her application for an exemption to enter Trinidad and Tobago,” Young said.

Young said he has not granted that caller an exemption as yet, adding he is often “approached by hundreds of persons requesting that consideration be given to their applications for exemptions to enter Trinidad and Tobago.”

“These personal approaches are made via email, text messages, WhatsApp messages, pre-action protocol letters, letters (including letters from Members of Parliament, both the UNC and the PNM), telephone calls and even physically stopping me in public and making such requests for exemption to enter Trinidad and Tobago,” Young said.

He said as has been stated from the first day that T&T’s borders were closed, “every request for exemption to enter Trinidad and Tobago is considered on a case by case basis.”

“This particular incident, where a request was made of me, for an exemption to enter Trinidad and Tobago, in the said virtual meeting by a person, is no different to the hundreds of requests made of me and has received no different treatment. In fact, to date, this particular application (request) has not been approved,” Young said.

“Accordingly, once again, I am compelled to reject the mischief and desperation of the UNC and to reassure the people of Trinidad and Tobago, whom I serve, that I stay true to my oath of office. I will continue to do my best to serve the population of my beloved country.”